It seems like every season the Wolves reach a point where they succumb to a Jekyll/Hyde syndrome. One night they’re rolling on all cylinders against a top-tier opponent; the next they lose to the worst team in the league by double digits.
The team you saw on Monday whooped a talented Sacramento squad at home by 27 – leading by as many as 36 at one point. The Wolves you saw tonight, just four days later, was the polar opposite.
Continuing their stretch of allowing opponents to drown them in 3-pointers, the Spurs made a season-high 19 threes at a remarkable rate of 58 percent tonight, falling just one make shy of their all-time franchise record. San Antonio is a formidable team when it comes to field goal percentage, but the Wolves’ ineptitude on defense – particularly in transition – opened up for a bevy of open looks for players like Marco Belinelli and Davis Bertans, who finished a combined 10-16 from deep.
Meanwhile Minnesota finished an atrocious 29 percent from three and 40 percent from the field. It’s one thing for threes not to drop on any given night, but they were clanking floaters and mid-range jumpers all night, which opened the gates for things to get ugly real quick, which they most certainly did.
Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins finished a combined 7-26 from the field, which ultimately plugged up things altogether on the offensive end for Minnesota. Derrick Rose played 15 minutes in the first half only to sit out the rest of the game with left ankle soreness. As such, Tyus Jones got some good run in, finishing with 10 points on 4-7 shooting, and Jerryd Bayless saw the floor for the first time this season in his first minutes in a Timberwolves uniform.
The Spurs ultimately outplayed the Wolves in every way imaginable tonight (except from the free throw line). Gregg Popovich is the master of preparing his team and putting them in the best possible position to win before the game actually starts, and you can see that on nights like tonight where they are clicking as a unit.
This team – a team that has been ravaged by injuries and developmental transitions over the past year – is still capable of executing what has been referred to as basketball’s version of “The Beautiful Game.” There were various instances tonight, whether it was in transition or in the half-court set, where a player like DeMar DeRozan got past his man, drew a help defender in, and passed it off to a player for a better shot, who repeated that same action until they found the perfect shot, which they did not miss.
San Antonio was able to fleece the Wolves’ defense with this kind of drive-and-kick action all night, which resulted in a deficit Minnesota never had a chance of crawling back from on the road. The Wolves’ dependency on the Target Center has become a problem at this point where their road record is now an abysmal 2-13.
The point of no return is fast approaching for this team when it comes to the playoffs this season. If they don’t sort out this erratic nature, they’ll wind up closer to the Phoenix Suns than the New Orleans Pelicans.